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Daughters of Darkness II by Beverley Lee, Lynn Love and Catherine McCarthy.

Publication Date 01.10.22

The Daughters are back! This time, editors Stephanie Ellis and Alyson Faye have chosen a new quartet of women horror writers to thrill and scare you in the latest anthology, Daughters of Darkness II, from the women-run indie horror press, Black Angel.

Within these shadowed pages you will journey into the depths of the myth-rich Scottish countryside, into the horrors of suburban life, where beneath the skin of Hummingbird Academy true macabreness ferments. You will encounter haunted girls and young men, with dark and deadly secrets, and travel into the Gothic heartlands, culminating in the hell of WW1 and encounter who or what comes home from the trenches.

These are four women horror writers at the top of their game, conjuring stories of quiet, skin-creeping terror.

Five Star Review

Horror isn't my usual genre of choice but since a dear friend was one of the authors, I had to read it. I have read Lynn's work before and knew how gorgeous and rich her writing is. My initial thoughts were to delve right into her section and perhaps go back to the other authors at a later time. And I am very glad I did because it has changed my mind about the genre and introduced me to three new fabulous authors.

A Light in the Darkness is written in three sections in which we follow Patricia from anxious child to more confident adult. Atmospheric, the prose conjures up sumptuous gothic images and elicits a tone of dark uncomfortable dread. Nursery rhymes have always had a dark past but here it gets darker. More tense.

The first section Thou Little Tiny Child is where we meet Patricia for the first time and it is here we first witness her deep love for her brother. In a house that feels sparse and claustrophobic Patricia bravely tries to protect him from something evil that hungers in the shadows. A thread that ties this gorgeous story together.

The second section How May We Do For To Preserve This Day and Patricia is older and now living with her Aunt in a secluded cottage near a small village. Again the imagery here is so strong that we see every detail of what's happening and feel what she's feeling. For some reason it reminded me of a cross between Little Red Riding Hood and Frankenstein.

The last section All Young Children to Slay subtly changes tone and Patricia is a volunteer providing care for the soldiers in the first world war. She is smoking now, flirty and confident but she knows something is coming. And so do we. All of this culminates in an emotional scene reminiscent of the old Sapphire and Steel programme that used to air on television. Just compelling writing, sublime in its execution. Lynn Love is one to watch.

Beverley Lee's A Whiteness of Swans is dark and magical. Beautiful imagery and accomplished prose had me scratching my skin to check everything was fine. Such a poignant story that has lingered with me since reading. This was my favourite story from her selection.

The Spider and The Stag by Catherine McCarthy was horrific. I couldn't get the image of the poor stag unable to rid it self of it's unwelcome visitor out of my mind. I felt so sorry for it. Such a clever piece of writing and again gorgeous prose that reads like magical folklore. I adored the Scottish setting and dark sense of mystery.

T C Parker's The Body Tree and Undeserving were both fascinating reads. Timely and modern with so many topical themes running through them. Heart-breaking and terrifying these were unique twisty tales focusing in on the dark side of humans and the evil that lies there.

An incredible collection of stories and the best anthology I have ever read. Editors Stephanie Ellis and Alyson Faye have created a truimph of a novel.

If this is horror sign me up for the next book. I have been mistaken all along.

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